Completed Research

2004-06 Enhancing Relationships in School Communities (ERIS): A Program to Promote Creative and Constructive Conflict Resolution Skills through Sustained Professional Development

Collaborative Research Team: Elizabeth Freeman, Professor Eleanor Wertheim (La Trobe University), Professor Ann Sanson; Australian Psychological Society - Psychologists for Peace Interest Group)

Project Manager: Margot Trinder
Funding: The Scanlon Foundation, Morawetz Social Justice Fund

The aim of this collaborative project was to enhance the capacity of primary schools to develop productive conflict handling and relationship-building processes in the schools (including in the area of cultural diversity) and to teach children how to handle conflict constructively. ERIS Phase 2: Enhancing Relationships in School Communities (ERIS) commenced mid 2007.

Visit the ERIS website

Download the ERIS summary report (176kb PDF)

2000-2002 Australian Research Council Strategic Partnerships with Industry Grant
The Effectiveness of Student Welfare Professional Development as a Strategy for Whole School Student Welfare, Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention

Chief Investigator: Professor Johanna Wyn
Collaborating Partner: Catholic Education Office Melbourne

Elizabeth Freeman and Desma Strong from the Melbourne Graduate School of Education's Student Wellbeing team collaborated with staff Youth Research Centre and the Catholic Education Office in a three-year longitudinal research study to investigate the impact of systemic credentialed professional development in student welfare on teacher participants and their schools at the whole school level.

Cahill, H. Shaw, G. Wyn, J., & Smith, G with Freeman, E. Strong, D. Huggins, D. Mary Tobin, M., & Montgomery, J. (August 2004). Translating caring into action: An evaluation of the Victorian Catholic Education student welfare professional development initiative.

Australian Youth Research Centre Research Report No. 26 (1.1mb PDF)

Action Research Projects in Student Wellbeing

As part of the Master of Education (Student Wellbeing), and its forerunner, the Postgraduate Diploma in Education Studies (Student Welfare), at the University of Melbourne, participating teachers have been undertaking action research projects in their schools in areas such as student wellbeing policy, anti-bullying policy and programs, behaviour management, social and emotional learning; drug education, home-school partnerships, transition, peer connectedness, student leadership and staff wellbeing. Action Research – Example projects are available for reading (below).


Student Wellbeing staff have supervised research in the areas of the role of the school in promoting wellbeing, student wellbeing policy, programs and practice, organisation of welfare in schools, the teacher's role in wellbeing, the teacher-student relationship, school-community partnerships, conflict management in education, bullying, disability and cross-cultural issues.

Action Research

From theory to practice

The intention of studies in student wellbeing at the University of Melbourne is to prepare graduates to successfully facilitate projects to promote wellbeing in their schools. In the fourth semester of the course teachers undertake action research projects in their schools applying the knowledge and skills that they have learned in their studies. These projects are tailored to the specific needs of each teacher's school. The teachers engage in a collaborative process using action research to develop, implement and evaluate student wellbeing related improvement. To support each other, teachers pair with fellow students from other schools to provide mutual peer consultancy. The projects provide the opportunity for teachers to reflect on outcomes and to test knowledge and skills about the change and improvement process in the complex world of schools. They enable teachers to enhance their capacity to act as a resource persons in their schools. Importantly the projects have direct and tangible outcomes for schools as the examples on the SWAP website will demonstrate. What begins as a project for study may become the vehicle for a sustained improvement process in schools.

The missing piece of the puzzle: Social and Emotional Learning in the Mathematics classroom (Summary)[Pdf]
Catholic sector secondary / 1000+ students

"Listen... I have feelings": Social and Emotional Learning in Mathematics (Summary) [Pdf]
Catholic sector primary / 250-500 students

Developing cultural literacy and democratic efficacy in Year 9 English [Pdf]
Independent sector K-12 / 750-1000 students

Developing cultural literacy and democratic efficacy in Year 9 English (Summary) [Pdf]
Independent sector K-12 / 750-1000 students

'Think like a kid': Engaging teachers to engage students [Pdf]
Catholic sector primary / 250-500 students

Changing pedagogy and school culture through professional learning (Summary) [Pdf]
Catholic sector primary / under 250 students

Can Photo-Stories Create Positive Staff and Whole-School Morale? An Action Research Project [Pdf]
Catholic sector P-12 / 500-750 student

Promoting student connectedness : using peer support during transition and beyond (85kb PDF)
Catholic sector secondary / 501-750 students

Addressing the gender bias in academic achievement for male and female students in year 8 (90kb PDF)
Independent sector P-12 / 1000+ students

Beginning the journey towards becoming a School as Core Social Centre (SACSC) (50kb PDF)
Catholic sector primary / 100-250 students

Breaking Ground: First Steps in Restorative Practices (136kb PDF)
Catholic sector Secondary / 501-750 students

Implementing Restorative Practices - Changing a Personal and School Culture (100kb PDF)
Government sector primary / 251-500 students

Drug Education [88kb, PDF]
Catholic sector primary / 251-500 students

Investigating the implementation of restorative justice practices through circle time (60kb PDF)
Catholic sector secondary / 501-750 students